Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2015’


“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Opens NTC’s Season

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a Tony Award-winning comedy written by Christopher Durang, who also brought other satires Beyond Therapy and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All for You. This comedy revolves around the relationships of three middle-aged siblings, two of whom live together, and it takes place during a visit by the third sibling, Masha, who supports them. They discuss their lives and loves, argue, and Masha threatens to sell the house. Some of the show’s elements were derived from the works of Anton Chekov, including several character names, as well as the play’s setting in a cherry orchard and the scene of the possible loss of an ancestral home.

In their family home in Bucks County, PA, siblings Vanya – gay and unhappy – (David Shirk) and Sonia – adopted and bitter – (Jennifer Reimer) are getting ready for the day. Sonia brings Vanya his usual cup of coffee, but Vanya already has one – which he claims tastes better. Frustrated, Sonia smashes both mugs ups against the wall, beginning the first of many fights that will ensue over the course of the upcoming weekend. Eventually, the two siblings come to an understanding, though they leave the broken mugs still-shattered on the floor. Sonia and Vanya have never had to fend for themselves; instead, living in their parents’ house and paying their bills from the more-successful sister Masha (the beautifiul Robyn Wiley). Nonetheless, they relish bemoaning their uneventful lives, their “tiny” cherry orchard and their mere existence.

group photo vanyaCassandra, portrayed by a dynamic Numi Narendran, arrives already disturbed by premonitional visions (the usual state of being for the Cassandra of this play). She passes on to Vanya and Sonia one final non-sensical premonition, and this is constantly mentioned throughout the play, ”beware Hootie Pie.” Minutes later, Masha arrives. She is grand, self-possessed, and is toating along Spike (a handsome and hip young man, played in this performance by Nick Moore (understudy to Jesse Lumb), whom Masha introduces as her “lover.” Soon, Nina (a charming Keara Reardon) the neightbor’s niece arrives. She is an aspiring actress who provokes Masha, and provokes lust in Spike and sympathy in Vanya.

Masha has returned home to attend a costume party at an influential neighbor ‘s house and insists that her siblings dress as characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, choosing to dress as Snow White, herself. When told she will be going on as one of the dwarfs, Sonia rebels and dresses as the Evil Queen imagining herself as portrayed by Maggie Smith on her way to the Oscars. As they prepare for the party, Masha tells them she intends to sell the house, leaving Vonya and Sonia devastated.

Jennifer Reimer-David Shirk (resized)

Things come to a head the day after the party. As Cassandra uses a voodoo doll on Masha, trying to disuade thoughts of selling the house. Sonia receives a phone call from a man she met at the party requesting a date. Hesitatantly, she accepts. Vanya, who is secretly writing a play inspired by Chekov’s Konstantin (imagined symbolist drama in the Seagull) is convinced by Nina to let her read it in front of the others. During the reading (which stars Nina as a molecule and takes place after the destruction of Earth), Spike rudely answers a text on his cell phone. Vanya reacts with a furious rant – ranging from such things as technology, global warming and the devolution of culture from the 1950s, among other topics.

Masha realizes that the person Spike is texting is her own Personal Assistant, with whom he’s been having an affair. She ends her relationship with Spike, and kicks him out of the house, announcing she no longer intends to sell it. As the play ends, the three siblings, obptimistic for the first time in a very long time, sit quietly together, and listen to the Beatles sing Here Comes the Sun.

Director Buzz Halsing superbly handles his talented cast without missing a comic beat. That’s not as easy as it might sound, considering all the various elements in this play, which is set on Mark Clark’s expansive Pennsylvania-home set. The very imaginative costumes are designed by Marie Meier and Janice Deneau. Director Halsing comments “This is not your mother’s Chekov, and in fact it’s not Chekov at all, and you don’t need to know anything about Chekov to laugh out loud throughout this play, and enjoy some very touching moments and scenes along the way.“


Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike began its run August 28th and will be performed through September 20, 2015, at Novato Theater Company Playhouse, 5420 Nave Drive, Suite C, Novato.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Order tickets online up to two hours before performance times at (print out your ticket from the confirmation email). If you are unable to print out your ticket, your name will be on a list at the Box Office at your scheduled time. The Box Office opens at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

You may purchase your ticket at the Box Office by cash or check on the date you attend. Credit cards are not accepted at the Box Office.

Please telephone Novato Theater Company at 415-883-4498 with questions.

Coming up next at the Novato Theater Company Playhouse is Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, directed by Kim Bromley with Music Director Andrew Klein from October 23 to November 22, 2015.

Photos by Mark Clark

Flora Lynn Isaacson


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